Maceió, the capital of Brazil’s Alagoas state on its sprawling east-coast, is home to pastel coloured colonial houses, white sand beaches and a brilliant young composer, poet and multi-instrumentalist named Bruno Berle.
With a voice of pure gold and a startling sensitivity for heartfelt pop songwriting, on No Reino Dos Afetos (In the Realm of Affections), Berle firmly embraces earnestness, through starry-eyed Brazilian love songs, ambient vignettes, warm, home-cooked beats and gentle strokes of MPB genius.
“It’s an album that was built from my desire to find beauty”, Berle explains - his simple, graceful words mirroring the graceful simplicity in his music. But amongst the simplicity, the compositions, arrangements and productions on No Reino Dos Afetos tingle with nuance and detail.
On the contemporary R&B inspired lead single “Quero Dizer” - produced by Berle and longtime friend and collaborator Batata Boy - the swirling, lo-fi, kalimba and guitar-fronted beat is turned into a feel-good hit by the ingenuity of Berle’s honey-soaked vocal melody.
Powerfully intimate, “O Nome Do Meu Amor” (My Love’s Name) is a guaranteed tearjerker, with Berle’s stunning voice soaring over gently plucked acoustic guitar and the textural flutter of soft movement, as if we hear him writing the song in the moment.
Drawing upon a close-knit, collaborative scene of Maceió artists and musicians, (of which Berle and Batata Boy are vital members), Berle also recorded some of his friends songs on the album, including João Menezes’ “Até Meu Violao”, the album’s beautifully laid back sunshine soul opener, which has all the charm of early-70s João Donato.
Having cut his teeth in soft-rock group Troco em Bala, and more recently finding himself embedded in both Rio and Sao Paulo’s contemporary music scenes - collaborating with the likes of Ana Frango Eletrico, who took the photo for the album cover - No Reino Dos Afetos is as musically diverse as Bruno himself. It’s hazy indie rock (“É Preciso Ter Amor”), calming ambient and field recording (“Virginia Talk”) as well as Berle’s own take on West African High Life (“Som Nyame”).
Instantly recognisable as a truly special artist, Berle’s character fills every corner of the sound, which is unsurprising considering he played most of the instruments.